On this trip, my subconscious, which is not particularly politically correct or subtle, has provided me with a theme jingle for each new country. In Thailand, it was:
‘Bangkok! Oriental city…
One night in Bangkok makes a grown man crumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil lying next to me’
In Vietnam, I was plagued by two snippets:
In World War Two, the average age of the combat soldier was 26
In Vietnam, it was nineteen
and, courtesy of Mr. Lou Reed:
‘Those gooks were fierce and fearless
That’s the price you pay when you invade
There’s no Christmas in February
No matter how hard you try’.
With Cambodia, I’ve reached a new low. ‘God forgive me,’ is how Irish people over thirty preface subversive or blasphemous remarks, even when they’re not sure which God they’re addressing. It’s how Orla Mulcahy used to punctuate her huge collection of jokes at the back of French class when we were twelve. The class favorite, by a long way, was:
‘Q: How do you starve a Cambodian?
A: Pick his nose while he’s asleep.
It beats like a drum in the back of my mind in Phnom Penh. God forgive me.